Study: No EU country has calculated transport decarbonisation costs

EU source: "In the context of the NECP process no such specific analysis has been undertaken, as the Governance Regulation doesn’t foresee it." [Shutterstock]

This article is part of our special report EU transport decarbonisation: What’s the cost?.

The EU risks missing its target to decarbonise transport by 2030, as in the current draft plans of member states there is no cost-effectiveness calculation of the different proposed measures, a study has found.

As part of the implementation of the new Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), EU member states are currently drafting 10-year National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).

These plans describe the precise mixture of renewable energies set to be used to meet climate objectives in transport. The deadline to submit the plans is by the end of the year.

Farm Europe, a think tank specialising in agricultural topics, has published a study suggesting that the current draft plans risk being ineffective due to the lack of a calculation method on the cost-effectiveness of the proposals.

The RED II offers a variety of measures to decarbonise transport, ranging from electrification to conventional, advanced biofuels and hydrogen.

According to the study, only three member states (Finland, Italy and Spain) have a robust transport decarbonisation plan while just seven (Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia) have considered all options “realistically”. In addition, a public consultation on NECPs took place in only nine countries.

Cost assessment and ‘Yellow Vests’

However, the authors of the study warned that no draft NECP plan provides specific figures on how much the proposed measures will cost to society.

In general, the study pointed out that the vast majority of member states, such as Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Poland, “vaguely” rely on electrification. But the cost of transition to electric cars is not calculated in any member state and the slow progress when it comes to electrification infrastructure could be an obstacle for quick deployment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed that Germany should install one million electric car charging points by 2030 in an effort to convince consumers to ditch petrol and diesel cars for their electric equivalents.

Tesla, which specialises in electric car manufacturing, recently announced that it will open a European Gigafactory in Germany. However, last July it reported large losses despite a relatively rise in electric cars demand.

“It is of utmost importance that society has a clear understanding of what to expect for the future and that citizens support chosen policy tools in order to achieve climate targets. Discussions today focus on ‘ambitions’ rather than on good governance,” the paper reads.

“The real work is gaining public support for and implementing policies that will reduce oil consumption next year, albeit at some level of cost,” the study noted. Referring to the ‘Yellow Vests’ protests, the study added that when climate plans are “derailed” by public protest then “the beneficiary is fossil fuel”.

The study criticised the lack of discussion in Brussels and national capitals on cost-effectiveness of transport decarbonisation policies, adding that EU taxpayers care about the cost of climate measures.

Based on the current draft plans, the authors tried to provide a first estimation of the carbon abatement cost specifying, though, that it’s not on a scientific basis. On average, the carbon abatement cost in the EU was calculated at €521/tCO2.

“The lowest cost is estimated for Finland, where the transport plan for the period of 2020-2030 is calculated to cost €225 per ton of CO2 abated.

The highest carbon abatement cost is associated with the transport plans of Cyprus, Portugal and Sweden at €772/tCO2,” the report noted.

EURACTIV asked the European Commission if it has provided EU member states with a cost-effectiveness calculation of the different transport decarbonisation measures.

An EU source admitted that in the case of NECPs no analysis has been made.

“The Commission regularly prepares impact assessments accompanying legislative proposals which provide information to member states on cost-effective measures to reduce emissions across various sectors,” the EU source said.

“In the context of the NECP process no such specific analysis has been undertaken, as the Governance Regulation doesn’t foresee it,” the source added.

However, the Governance Regulation explicitly states: “This Regulation sets out the necessary legislative foundation for reliable, inclusive, cost-efficient, transparent and predictable governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action.”

(Edited by Benjamin Fox)

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